Course Manager James Bledge was invited out to Spain this week to talk in front of Norwegian and Swedish Greenskeepers. James talked about his career, the history and development of RCP over the last 7 years and what the future has in store. Sadly this was the only photograph that was taken!
We were lucky enough to play golf and James had Fanny Sunesson on the bag! (just for the photo!) Fanny was also out talking at the conference about golf course set up. A great experience meeting her and listening to some of her stories from her unbelievable career.
Today we have a visit from Greenkeeping royalty! A group Course Managers were formed over 10 years ago to visit each others courses, discuss progression and help each other out, each year they visit a few courses and this year they decided to drop in to the East Kent Links courses.
L-R, Selfie taker Chris Haspell (Coul Links), Ben Williams ( RCP), Chris Mailley (Skibo Castle) James Bledge (RCP), Innes Kinght (Kingsbarns), Lee Strutt (Royal Automobile Club and Bledge’s Mentor!), Stewart Duff (Gullane), Sean Mclean (Princes) Lee Campany (RCP), Eoin Riddell (Royal Dornoch)
The group discussed turf conditions, potential improvements, machinery, staff and architecture. There is so much to be learned by all and for many of the group it was the first time they had set foot on our site
Chris Haspell was particularly interested in the architecture as he is hopefully about to embark on the most exciting new build golf course in modern times. Coul Links is currently awaiting planning permission as the site is on a site of special scientific interest. The course will be designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore backed by Mike Keiser who is responsible to some of Americas most stunning golf courses. You can find some more information on this site, keep your fingers crossed for them!
One of the improvements that can be made to the course is the firmness and texture of fairways especially during the winter months. Without spending an incredible amount of money we have worked out a solution. Natural England would prefer to return rank grassed areas on and around the course to dune land by removing the topsoil and exposing bare sand for finer grasses and dune plants to take hold. We can take advantage of this and mid the sand to be used as topdressing. The field opposite the 12th tee is large enough for us to dress the fairways, tees, surrounds and flows every winter for a number of years.
A screener with very fine screens (20mm over 10mm) was hired in and we produce around 60 tons a day which would cost us £3000 to buy in. It is a slow process as the sand is wet and we apply a thick dressing due to us only having the resources to do this once a year.
Fairways 7-14 will be finished before Christmas, weather permitting all of the tees, flows, walkways and surrounds will be complete before Christmas before returning to finish the rest of the fairways in the New year.
The fairways are brushed in after, this isn’t as effective during winter due to dampness so please be patient with sandy fairways until grass grows through and rain washes in.
The quality of sand after screening is impeccable with no stones or organic material. Applied by the Rink DS3800 which the club invested well in a few years ago, it has proven to be a fantastic tool.
L-R, Finlay Hyder (Apprentice), Nick Machin (Assistant Greenkeeper / Irrigation Tech) , Dan Fisher (Assistant Greenkeeper), Chris Clark (Assistant Greenkeeper), Tristan Martin (Assistant Greenkeeper), Stevie Bledge (Team Dog), Lee Campany (Deputy Course Manager), Ben Williams (First Assistant) Keith Pooley (Mechanic), James Bledge (Course Manager), missing from photo Mac MacDonnell (Assistant Greenkeeper)
Tristan Martin has been working with the team for around three years and this week we received some great news that Tristan passed his NVQ Level 2 in Greenkeeping with DISTINCTION!
Tristan has worked incredibly hard to achieve the top grade with help from John Miller at Plumpton College. John visits Tristan on a monthly basis to make sure he is up to date with all of his work as it is all work and home learning. He will now embark on NVQ Level 3 with team mates Chris Clark and Nick Machin. The club sees education and progression of prime importance and feel it is key to the course improvement.
Tristan really loves this photo…
An old ‘Ryan Renovaire’ has been refurbished and brought back to it’s former glory and used on the fairways for the first time in a long time. Slit toning is an old school way of pride aerating which helps create air space in the top surface, allowing water and roots to push down. All of the fairways can be completed in 3-4 days.
The tine is triangular shaped and goes in to the ground around 4-5″. Ideally this would be carried out a few times before Christmas as undertaking after Christmas could bring the risk of these slits cracking up during dry summers.